Kelli Anderson, a self-described artist/designer and tinkerer has just released her long-awaited book, This Book is a Planetarium. Anderson, who is based in Brooklyn, works in a variety of digital and analog media but is best known for her use of paper in the form of educational apps and animations, as well as interactive tools. This Book is a Planetarium features several different paper gadgets designed by Anderson, all of which are fully functional.
From the namesake planetarium to a musical instrument, message decoder, and spiralgraph, Anderson also includes readers in the sense of wonderment by offering detailed explanations of how each gadget works. In choosing to compile these tools into a book format, Anderson told Colossal, “Pop-up books are fairly unique among analog experiences in that they engage the reader with both text and experience—and can therefore simultaneously demonstrate and explain a concept. My intention was to create a memorable way to learn foundational physics concepts—especially for artists, children, and people who think with their hands more than they think in numbers.”
As a designer who works with one hand in the digital world and one hand in the tactile world, Anderson described to Colossal a flurry of literal back-and-forth between paper and glue and equations and schematics. Most gadgets started as rough physical prototypes followed by researching mathematical refinements to make them work. In deciding which tools made the cut for the book, the designer created 25 prototypes and evaluated them by the criteria of pop-up-aesthetics, educational value, production feasibility, ease-of-use for the user, and utility. Anderson describes her motivation for the book:
I’m really interested in learning about how the world works through my projects—whether it is the physical world or the world of aesthetic signs and signifiers. The lo-fi devices in the book may be less functional than their digital counterparts, but they reveal structural forces in our world that are otherwise hard to see in isolation. At their fundamental core, digital experiences are always made of rules built by humans. With the book, I hope that I can prove that possibility hides in even the most mundane materials—and that you do not need a specialized education, math genius, or sophisticated equipment to tap into it.
This Book is a Planetarium is available in The Colossal Shop.